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Movie Review: Fiction Cannot Beat a 'True Story'

by Todd A. Smith


(Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)


Too Twisted not to be True 




Reality often seems more interesting than fiction.

With the exceptions of writers like Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, many writers do not have the talent to formulate the twisted and dark stories to captivate an audience and have them on the edge of their seats for an extended period of time.

In “True Story,” Mike Finkel (Jonah Hill) is living every journalist’s dream.

His investigative pieces have graced the cover of the New York Times Magazine many times, and he even considers his work Pulitzer Prize worthy.

He has fans that run the gamut of colleagues to killers.

However, when his latest piece about slave conditions on cocoa plantations in Africa compromises his integrity and reliability as a journalist, he finds himself as far away from the “Big Apple” as possible, in Montana with his girlfriend, Jill (Felicity Jones).

Mike’s unceremonious termination from the New York Times makes him a pariah in the business and the career that he fought so hard to obtain has come crashing down instantly.

Nevertheless, the one fan that Mike still has, Christian Longo (James Franco), still loves him so much that he has been impersonating the journalist while in Mexico.

While some might be flattered to have fans, the only thing that makes identity theft scarier is having one’s identity stolen by a man suspected of murdering his wife and three children.

When Christian is finally arrested in Mexico, the only journalist he trusts with his story is his fake namesake Mike Finkel.

Mike is convinced that Christian is an innocent man and getting his story might be his way to get back in the business of journalism or even better, book writing.

Could the state of Oregon be prosecuting an innocent man?

Could Longo’s story put Finkel back on the map in the writing industry?

Or could Finkel simply be Longo’s pawn, the only journalist naïve enough to believe the lies of a cold-blooded killer?

What is the true story?

“True Story,” directed by Rupert Goold, is the perfect canvas for Hill and Franco to paint a dramatic masterpiece that goes against the grain of their comedic greatness.

Sure, Franco single-handedly slayed the entire film “127 Hours,” but “True Story” shows how “sick” his acting talents really are.

Although Longo is considered a suspect in his wife’s murder, he still wears his wedding band everyday.

Furthermore, Hill was more of a boy genius in “Moneyball,” but “True Story” is a full-grown performance from one of the most talented actors of this new generation of stars.

“True Story” will make audiences not familiar with Finkel and Longo’s story eager to read Finkel’s memoir of the same title to get the full story.

Their relationship is twisted, demented and intriguing despite Longo being a suspected murderer.

He even gets writing tips from Finkel, learning literary terms like double negatives.

The film brings to light the predicament that every journalist faces.

What sources does one trust and when is one being used by a source because of his/her large platform?

The only detail that should have been altered is the placement of the first scene with Longo’s attorney.  His attorney should have been introduced to the story much sooner.

Regardless, “True Story” is truly a fascinating story.  The subject matter is not easy to digest, but that does not mean it is not appetizing in the long run. 






This article was published on Friday 17 April, 2015.
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